When I look at portrait drawings of older individuals, I can’t help but wonder what stories are hidden behind their bright eyes. Their wisdom and experiences are told in the soft folds of wrinkles that can no longer hide behind makeup or be softened with night creams. Looking at Indomitable Will (below) by portrait artist Vanessa Turner, for example, I’m sure she would be satisfied to know that her drawing keeps pulling me back to look at it as I write this. I feel like I’m being watched, but as Turner says below, the important thing is to simply feel.
Turner’s art is included in Art Journey Portraits and Figures, edited by Rachel Rubin Wolf. In it, Wolf interviews dozens of portrait artists who share their processes. Here’s what Turner had to say.
RRW: What inspired you to draw this subject?
VT: Some time ago I completed a small series of portraits of people over the age of 80. The series was entitled “Those on the Journey Ahead” and was inspired by the process of growth and aging. It’s a journey often sought and feared at the same time. Indomitable Will was one of the pieces developed in that series.
RRW: Have you drawn this person before?
VT: I have quite a few photos of this magnificent woman. This is my third portrait of her. It’s likely that I’ll continue to draw her often, studying her more as time goes on. There’s a strong connection between us. Her strength is written across her face, journeys traveled, burdens carried, fields sown and rewards reaped. Her strength doesn’t come from physical capability but rather from an indomitable will and love. She’s stern, yet she can’t hide her compassion. And whenever I’ve fallen, her arms have been there to catch me. I may not have her forever but she’ll forever be a part of me. She’s my grandmother.
RRW: How does your relationship with the subject affect your working style or the outcome of the work?
VT: There’s something about portraiture that resonates deeply with me. I attempt to understand and develop some kind of relationship with the person I am drawing. This is important to me because I aim for my portraits to bear a likeness not only of the person’s features but also of their character and spirit. When people view portraits, they should also feel.
RRW: Do you mainly consider yourself a portrait artist?
VT: Within my portfolio you will find a variety of charcoal and pastel work. My work centers around the beauty and balance found between light and shadow within both portraiture and still life.
Wolf’s Art Journey Portraits and Figures is full of artwork such as Indomitable Will, complemented with the techniques that the artists used to achieve these remarkable drawings and the intangible parts that inspire each artwork to come to fruition. Find portraits in colored pencil, pastel, charcoal, pen and ink, and more. And if you missed it, read about Edgar Jerins’s portrait/figure art, which is also featured in this striking collection.
Yours in art,